Lessons Africa can learn from China success story

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019 00:00 |
SGR train at Mombasa terminus. Photo/Courtesy

Seventy years is like the blink of an eye in the history of civilisations. To China, it looks like yesterday when chairman Mao Zedong solemnly declared to the world the founding of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing on October 1, 1949.

It is that taste and joy of nationhood that African countries are currently sharing with China, as the continent grapples with the onerous responsibilities of independent states. Both partners have undergone new beginnings, after breaking from an unpleasant past. 

Arguably, it is only China who can empathise with Africa’s current and dire need to fast-track her economic and social development.

Reason? Africa is at the stage where China was about four decades ago before the reform and opening up policy. 

Some 70 years ago, for instance, China’s  relied heavily on rain-fed agriculture, with the country suffering from a net food deficit.

Fast forward in 2018, China’s total grain production reached 658 million tonnes, a five-fold increase from 1949. Since 2006, China has been the world’s third largest food aid provider. 

The country has established agricultural technology demonstration and experimental centres in 100 countries, and dispatched tens of thousands of agricultural experts to these centres. 

Kenya is one of the countries hosting a China-Africa Joint Research Centre. Such centres are not only contributing to their host country’s food security, but also globally. 

Likewise, China’s leap in science and technology in the last 70 years can only be termed as magical. Similar to the food sector, Africa is now a major beneficiary of China’s technological feats in space science, ocean exploration and ICT.

In 1949, China’s railway was a partly 22,000km. By the end of 2018, the total mileage of China’s railway was 131,000km, with 29,000km of high-speed railway.

This mileage accounts for over 60 per cent of the world’s total. It is, therefore, not by accident that Africa has been looking up to China to meet her massive infrastructural needs, particularly road and rail projects. 

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, some 82 million people have been lifted out of poverty. In 2018, this number had reduced drastically to 16 million.

The Chinese are now enjoying higher standards of living and by 2020, the government envisages that all its 1.3 billion citizens will lead decent lives. 

These are just some of the major milestones in China’s rapid rise to a global economic powerhouse. With the economic agenda now solid enough, Africa feels that China can contribute to stabilising the Horn of Africa. This is crucial in securing the gains of economic development.

China could enhance its support to regional peace efforts and post-conflict reconstruction of Somalia and South Sudan, including the war on terrorism. Peace among all neighbours of the Horn of Africa is paramount if we have to defeat terrorists and bring development to our people.  

Undoubtedly, Africa is willing to learn the secrets of China’s success. President Xi Jinping’s book, “The Governance of China”, is being translated into Swahili, Kenya’s national language, which is also spoken widely in many parts of Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. 

African leaders have shown a willingness to practice China’s example in transforming and building resilient societies through home-grown governance solutions. With this background, the bonds of Sino-Africa friendship will continue to grow for the mutual benefit of the two partners.

The writer is a communication expert and public policy analyst. [email protected]

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